For the past decade, I’ve told anyone who would listen that Lorenzo Carcaterra’s crime novel Apaches would make a great movie — one that even lent itself to a sequel, CHASERS. Many screenwriters have taken a stab at Apaches in the intervening years, but the project has languished in Development Hell. Jerry Bruckheimer had a deal at Disney for most of this time, and Apaches is anything but a Disney movie, which obviously hampered its progress to the big screen.
The book follows a group of ex-cops, outcasts who have been forced into early retirement due to injury or psychological trauma, who band together to take on a vicious drug dealer. This drug dealer employs an army of prostitutes whose job is to get pregnant so they can give birth to babies that are then slaughtered, cut open, and stuffed with drugs, so that couriers can bring the dead babies through airport security. They just look like they’re sleeping kids. Yeah, that’s the level of fucked-up we’re talking.
It may require a strong stomach, but Apaches is a great book, and Chasers may be even better, since it’s not quite as batshit crazy, and it adds a police dog to the mix. Every sixth chapter or so, you see the action from the point of view of this police dog, Buttercup, and it’s awesome. The dog is really a key part of the team, if not its emotional center.
So I can’t say I’m particularly happy about Bruckheimer’s decision to take these gritty characters — Boomer, Dead-Eye, Pins, Geronimo, Reverend Jim, Mrs. Columbo — and turn them loose via a CBS series from NCIS: Los Angeles creator Shane Brennan. I mean, I’m excited that these characters will finally be brought to life, and I’m fine with Bruckheimer going the TV route, but network TV? Really?
This is a show that cried out for a cable network or streaming service that wouldn’t sand off the edges. Now, Chasers is poised to become another generic network crime drama. That may be unfair, but I raised an eyebrow right off the bat when I saw the title, since I’m assuming they went with Chasers instead of Apaches because the latter brings to mind the Native American tribe, which has little to do with the story.
Carcaterra is the brilliant author of Sleepers and A Safe Place: The True Story of a Father, a Son, a Murder, both of which I read as a kid. They’re both incredible true stories about the author’s own troubled youth. As a huge fan of Carcaterra, I’m really hoping that Brennan and Bruckheimer somehow manage to do justice to his characters on CBS. I doubt they will, but at least I’ll tune in to find out, which is more than I can say about most cop shows the network pumps out.
I’d kill to be part of this writing staff and preserve the gritty integrity of the book, but since that’ll never happen, let’s just hope Carcaterra is brought on as a consultant. Otherwise, this show could wind up in a body bag, which would be a damn shame. I wish everyone the best of luck, because they’re going to hear from me if they mess this up.
Jeff Sneider | Editor in Chief